The year 2010 was an amazing whirlwind of a year for the Fractal Foundation, and I’m excited to share some of our milestones and accomplishments, and also a glimpse into what’s coming up next year.
Our First Friday Fractals planetarium shows continue to sell out, now 172 times, for a total audience of over 25,000 people. Not bad for a math and science show, but it’s just the beginning! We’re getting ready to release a feature planetarium show that will be available to any digital planetarium in the world. Over the past year, the shows have evolved from flat, 2-dimensional fractal zooms into immersive 3D fractal explorations. If you haven’t seen the show for a little while, it’s gotten dramatically more impressive. Soon the whole world will be able to see it, but for now, Albuquerque - the Fractal Capital of the World - is the place to see this extraordinary show. There are still tickets for the 6, 7, and 8:00 shows on January 7th, but don’t wait long or they’ll be gone.
In March of this year, we accomplished a giant feat with the Fractal Trianglethon, in which we built an enormous fractal triangle made of 4036 individual fractal triangles. While most of them were made by children in New Mexico, many of the fractals came from as far away as Australia. People have so much fun with this project, and it teaches valuable lessons not only about math but also about the power of cooperation. Many thanks to the Albuquerque Convention Center, for providing a space for the project, and especially to our dozens of volunteers who helped teach children to make triangles as well as actually building the giant one itself. See pics and a video of this amazing construction. As fractals teach us that there are no limits, next year we’ll be breaking our own record with a fractal three times larger!
Our educational outreach continues to grow, and we reached over 6500 children and shared with them the exciting beauty of math and science. We’ve been teaching all over New Mexico, from Carlsbad to Farmington, Santa Rosa to Gallup, Silver City to Taos, and even ventured into our neighboring states with fractal presentations in Durango, Colorado and Amarillo, Texas. I also did our first international presentations with a show in England at the Gateway School just outside London. Altogether so far, since 2003, we’ve now taught over 34,000 children that math is fun, exciting and beautiful. Pretty great work!
And when I say “we” - it’s because for the first time it’s not just me doing the teaching. This was a breakthrough year for us, as Katia Shtyrkova and Patricia Valderrama joined us and became volunteer fractal outreach teachers. I’m eager to have a whole team of teachers traveling all around, teaching fractals everywhere. And while I’m delighted to have help teaching, I still love presenting fractals to new audiences. This October, I had the honor of giving a TEDx talk at our local TEDxABQ event. This exciting 18 minute format is spreading worldwide, and in February I’ll be traveling to India to give a TEDx talk in Goa - my first appearance in Asia.
Back at home, we’ve recently selected 8 wonderful new winners for the Albuquerque Fractal Challenge. While we haven’t publicly announced the winners yet (we’ll be doing that early next year), I can promise you that very soon there will be several giant new outdoor fractal installations appearing soon around our city. See an illustration below of what one installation at Monte Vista Elementary School will look like. This program turns math explorers into heroes in their schools and communities, and I’m excited to publicly honor these talented young people. Stay posted, as I’ll be announcing the award ceremony soon.
A fun numerical milestone: we’re about to gain our 4000th facebook fractal fan! And if you haven’t checked out our facebook page, it’s a fun fractal community where people share their fractal creations, ideas, and feedback about our fractal projects. Please check it out - It’s lots of fun, and we love hearing from you!
On a sad note, Benoit Mandelbrot, the father of fractals passed away this year. An iconoclastic visionary mathematician and scientist, Mandelbrot’s enormous contributions to our culture will continue to ripple out. Personally, I owe my career to his discoveries, as there could be no Fractal Foundation without fractals. And the tens of thousands of people who have been impacted by our shows, lessons and projects have all benefited from his insights. It truly is inspiring to see what a positive impact a single creative individual can have. A true math hero.
Thanks for all your interest! I am constantly moved by the support of you, our fantastic fractal fans, who have enabled us to do all these wonderful things. It has been a great year - but next year promises to be even better.
Happy Fractal New Year!
-Jonathan Wolfe, Ph.D.